Outdoor Journalist

  |  Gorp.com

Although she is primarily a journalist, Annie also operates in the capacity of gear maven, television host, outdoor guide, and dog walker. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Backpacker, AMC Outdoors, and Canoe & Kayak Magazine. She appears regularly on PBS's Anyplace Wild and Trailside TV, and can be seen in independent documentaries. She is a Leave No Trace Master Trainer, Registered Maine Guide, and Wilderness First Responder. Before becoming self-employed, Annie worked as a camp counselor, ski instructor, expedition cook, bike mechanic, and summer maid in Aspen. She has been working in the outdoors for more than 20 years.

In Her Own Words

The Job
Mostly I am a journalist. I research by interviews, study natural history, read up on myths and lore of a place, then try to go and record my own experiences in that place, by journal keeping or painting. Eventually I will write about it for some assignment or another. This means delivering on time, and making sure the information is accurate—fact checking is a big part of the business of journalism. Also I teach workshops about journal writing, to outdoor programs and symposia.

As a sometime guide, I am responsible as a safety net for myself and other members of my group. I'm kind of a natural caregiver and I love to cook and am a little over the top in the tidiness department. Because I'm organized, it's easy for me to plan ahead.

How She Got There
I come from an outdoor family. My grandparents were keen skiers; my mom's folks ran a summer resort and lodge, and her dad even built a kayak back in the early 1920s. It was sink or swim with my big brothers—I chased after them on the ski mountains, and followed one brother into bike racing as a teenager. My parents had me enrolled in swimming, gymnastics, ballet and music classes 'til I graduated from high school and moved west. In college I took every outdoor skills opportunity there was, from whitewater kayaking to mountaineering to wilderness ethics and safety. I also managed to get a good education in journalism. Then I went to Seattle to ride on the velodrome, and began working for a bike race promoter writing media kits. Next came Canoe magazine, and ever after I always worked in my field.

How to Get Her Job
Live hard. Be curious. Listen. Share your enthusiasm. Help others find their voice. Take vitamins. Don't be afraid to work hard. You will have to work hard.

Pros
I'm doing what I want! I work a lot but I do call my own hours, and have so much diversity in the projects I choose, from geography to topic, people and environment.

Cons
Deadlines. Constant pressure to make sure I have work lined up ahead of time. I am my own business and so it's hard to relax about taking time off.

Salary Range
Ha ha ha ha ha. I have found that pay in outdoor jobs ranges from laughable to almost adequate. However, the intangibles do offset the modest payscale. The people are fantastic, and the learning is fascinating. After a while, though, those intangibles don't always cut the mustard. I'd love health insurance, for one thing—all those sports injuries take their toll.

Her Dream Job
Working an outdoor job with benefits, good salary and one that allows me to remain in my home town, or third shift at Tom's of Maine toothpaste factory screwing caps on the tubes. Somebody's gotta do it.

Do you think there's any danger in your passion becoming your career?
Call it an occupational hazard.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 27 Jun 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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